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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Pune land deal case: HC grants Eknath Khadse interim protection from arrest for one week

Besides Khadse, his wife Mandakini and their son-in-law Girish Chaudhary are also named as accused in the case.

Written by Omkar Gokhale |
October 21, 2021 1:04:09 pm
NCP leader Eknath Khadse outside the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in Mumbai in January 2020. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted interim protection from arrest for one week to NCP leader and former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse in a money laundering case pertaining to a 2016 Pune land deal matter.

A special court had last month initiated a process against Khadse and four others, including his wife and son-in-law, observing that a prima facie case has been made out against them following the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate.

A single-judge bench of Justice Nitin W Sambre was hearing Khadse’s anticipatory bail plea argued by senior counsel Shirish Gupte. He argued that his client had moved a pre-arrest bail plea as the special judge had passed observations against him.

Gupte added that Khadse has sought exemption from the appearance before the special court as he is hospitalised and has various ailments including piles.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for ED raised a preliminary objection against the plea and said that the applicant should move for a regular bail plea before sessions court first and then approach HC. However, Gupte opposed Singh’s contention and said that there is no bar on the maintainability of the pre-arrest bail plea as per past Supreme Court judgments.

After hearing submissions, the bench referred to past Supreme Court ruling and noted, ” I have considered the issue. The Court is sensitive to the fact that the applicant’s wife’s plea is scheduled for hearing on December 7, but in this matter, in my opinion, it will be appropriate to accept the suggestion of the applicant that he may move regular bail before sessions court with a plea for interim protection.”

The HC noted in the order, “File regular bail within a period of one week. If it is moved, the special court is directed to decide the same then and there expeditiously, provided the respondent is served with the copy of the application. For the period of one week from today, the special court shall not take the applicant in custody.”

After Gupte sought protection for one more week post the decision of a special court in Khadse’s regular bail plea, HC refused the same.

Besides Khadse, his wife Mandakini and their son-in-law Girish Chaudhary are also named as accused in the case. The ED alleged that when Khadse was Maharashtra Revenue Minister in 2016, he had misused his position in a land deal to benefit his family. While Chaudhari is in custody, another co-accused Ravindra Muley was granted bail last week.

Granting interim relief from arrest to Mandakini Khadse, wife of NCP leader Eknath Khadse, the HC on October 14 had directed her to appear before ED every Tuesday and Friday between 10 am and pm from October 17 till further orders. The court instructed her to cooperate with the agency.

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